Clueless in Crewe

May 19, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in British Politics, New Labour | Leave a comment
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In spite of the evidence to suggest the Tories have (quelle surprise), been practicing rank hypocrisy in their battle for Gwyneth Dunwoody’s seat, the overwhelming consensus is that Labour hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in this by-election. As Dan Ashton notes, erecting a contrast between Tamsin and her millionaire opponent on the basis of class and privilege only works if the one casting herself as a working class hero represents a party seen as being on the side of ordinary people. With the 10p tax fiasco not forgotten or forgiven, Labour hasn’t been able to do that.

So it really baffles me that the whole ‘Timpson is a Toff’ angle became the running theme in this campaign, particularly when there was a far more positive, less pungent narrative to be exploited. If her mother was well-liked and respected (perhaps even more so since her death), she could’ve campaigned to further Gwyneth Dunwoody’s legacy – distance herself from the national party at a time when its ratings are in the gutter and promote herself as a strong-willed and independent-minded MP who puts people before the party. When you contrast that with a simpering Cameron yes-man who is high on style but low on substance, you’ve got a fighting chance of holding on to the seat. To be fair, there’s evidence that they’ve tried to promote this characterisation on the candidate’s website, but the moment the press caught sight of the prat in the hat, that was always going to be the campaign’s central issue. It just seems clueless and boorish, and if Labour campaigns like this in two years time, those predictions of a Tory victory might turn out to be an underestimation.


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